See Hear Love (2023)

See Hear Love (2023)

An earnest yet predictable melodrama that overcomplicates its central romance with unnecessary subplots.

5.6

Movie

Japan
Japanese
Drama, Romance
2023
JOHN H. LEE
Dai Watanabe, Daikichi Sugawara, Mahiro Takasugi
132 min

TLDR

There has to be a better way to come up with story ideas than by playing disability Mad Libs.

What it's about

A manga artist who is suddenly struck with blindness meets and falls in love with a young Deaf woman who also happens to be a fan of his work.

The take

With a premise that just seems inherently emotionally manipulative, it should take an especially sensitive touch to make a story like this work on screen. Unfortunately, See Hear Love—itself based on a South Korean webcomic—is both overdramatic and not nearly stylized enough in any meaningful way to help its subject matter evolve beyond melodrama. It remains a well-shot and decently acted film that, at the very least, treats its characters as adults and not as caricatures with disabilities. But the movie makes little effort to place these characters in believable situations that should shed a light on what it's like to live with blindness or as a Deaf person. See Hear Love takes the easiest (and slowest) way out, bringing its two lovers together under somewhat creepy circumstances, and having them endure cartoonishly exploitative "antagonists"—all for the sake of portraying the romance as grand and artificially tragic.

What stands out

None of this film's missteps are the lead actors' faults, as they do what they can with the little they've been given. The earlier parts of the film are probably where Tomohisa Yamashita and Yuko Araki shine brightest—selling Shinji's bitter frustration at his sudden impairment, and Hibiki's desperate loneliness despite having a community of other Deaf and sign language-fluent people with her. And while Araki certainly has respect for her Deaf character, at this point in time it feels like a very outdated choice to have a hearing person play a Deaf character in a film that seems to want us to pity her more than anything.

Comments

I adore this movie. The plot is captivating and both the leading and supporting actors and actresses are good fits in their roles. The depictions of love is genuine heartfelt and the interconnected relationships among all the characters are portrayed accordingly.

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